I remember the Seinfeld episode where the gang had gone to a Chinese restaurant before going to a movie and the central question was whether their names were written in the reservation book? After several checks and angry conversations the maître de had gotten it wrong once and as they left in disgust and stepped out the door, their names were called. Getting your name written down is a big deal. I tried to get a hair cut the other day and could not believe that you could not just walk in and get it done. Your name had to be written in the book, or booked in the computer. I had a couple of teachers who had book were they would they would keep a record of particularly good reports or tests and would give stars at the end of quarters, or whatever we used to divide time in school.
There is a classic scene in the movie “The Jerk” where Steve Martin celebrates the fact that “the new phone book is here” as he jumps up and down and celebrates the fact that his name is written down somewhere, and he is finally getting somewhere in life. There is this thing outside of him that has his name written down and acknowledges that he is alive. It is a funny movie but there is something so sad about that and yet so true. We want something outside of us that acknowledges that we are alive. Having your name in print really makes you somebody.
In the Gospel lesson today after all kinds of things that happen on their mission trip the disciples come back amped and excited and Jesus tells them to rejoice that their names are written in Heaven. We know from other scriptures that means that we are saved and have everlasting life. In Revelation 21, we read about the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, and those who will be able to enter there are “those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”